Discrepancies appear to emerging in the claims of spot fixing accused Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif in their high-profile case being heard by an ICC tribunal at Doha. Cross examination between the two suspended Pakistan players have led to acknowledgement that the wrongdoing was committed, but there are still question marks over blame and complicity.
The two along with the third accused Mohammad Amir have pleaded not guilty to charges of bowling deliberate no-balls in the fourth Test against England. They were allegedly paid off by agent Mazhar
Majeed to bowl the illicit balls in Pakistan's fourth Test against England at the Rose Bowl in August last year. However, on day five of the hearing, during which Asif presented his defence and was then
cross-examined by ICC lawyers, the explanations of why a no-ball was bowled indicate that it was the result of an instruction from Butt.
Butt's claims and Asif's rebuttals will clearly prove pivotal in the ongoing case. In his opening statement, Asif said that the no-ball arose because of the extra effort required to bowl a quicker ball as directed by Butt, who was captain at the time.
The players who have been arriving for the hearings separately and have been questioned at different times and by various lawyers, are in quite a spot now. The case of a deliberate wrongdoing only seems to be strengthening through the interplay between Butt and Asif. It is likely therefore that owing to the ICC's hard stand against corruption in the game, the penalties doled out could be severe.
Salman Butt, as captain and alleged chief engineer of the no-balls, could face the sternest sanctions, while the fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir could be granted lesser punishments.
On Wednesday the players will deliver their closing statements, after which the three-member tribunal will deliberate on the judgement. It is unclear whether the verdict will be passed on Jan 11 itself or held back for later.